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Portable Generator Safety
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In the event of electric power outages, portable generators can be a lifesaver.  However, if not used properly they can be deadly.  Use the following factsheet as a guideline for the safe usage of generators:

small PDF iconPortable Generator Hazards: A Factsheet on Portable Generator Safety (135 Kb)

Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using them are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or electrocution, and fire.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from improper use of portable generators.


bullet Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents.
bullet NEVER use generators in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.
bullet Follow manufacturer's instructions.
bullet Install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery backup) carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home, following manufacturer's instructions.
bullet Test CO alarms often and replace batteries when needed.


bullet Keep the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open, canopy- like structure.
bullet Dry your hands before touching the generator.
bullet Plug appliances directly into generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor- rated extension cord. Make sure en tire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all 3 prongs, especially a grounding pin.
bullet NEVER plug the generator into a wall outlet. This practice, known as backfeeding, can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer.
bullet If necessary to connect generator to house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install appropriate equipment. Or, your utility company may be able to install an appropriate transfer switch.


bullet Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
bullet Always store fuel outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass containers.
bullet Store fuel away from any fuel-burning appliance.

For More Information Contact:
The United States Fire Administration
National Fire Programs Division
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727

Information for this fact sheet was provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Courtesy: US Fire Administration (

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